Chapter 68: A Specialisation in Defence; Joining the Team?
Author’s Note: I kept this one short, since it leaves off at a pretty good spot. Also retouched the chapter a little; noticed an awful, awful mistake on my part.
“Let’s get this over with!”
Chrome advanced, his shield held aloft. He ducked and weaved through the path of the blade as it descended, opting out of using his shield to knock it away. The axe swooped his way immediately after, and he changed tactics by catching its bash with his greatshield. Though the blow itself had been circumvented, the pure force of the impact had not.
Chrome appraised the state of his greatshield. He couldn’t go about things the same way Maple and Sally did; overuse would burden his shield until it fell to bits. As things were, there still wasn’t enough to fret over, but there was a great likelihood of his greatshield being reduced to pieces if he had to keep blocking all the heavy attacks that came for him. Chrome decided to pull back temporarily, retreating to a spot where attacks had a hard time reaching.
Fully conscious that no attacks would have enough range to make it all the way to where Syrup was, Chrome bombarded the boss with Syrup’s laser-beam. In a more unfortunate turn of events, the boss crossed his blade and axe in protection, and the beam bounced off of them in its entirety.
“Guess getting close is my only chance…!”
Now all the more certain that no long-range bombardment would be of use, Chrome resorted to approaching the boss once again.
The boss crossed his blade over his axe once again, his intent to avoid the vines that had shot from Syrup’s direction bearing grand results. Now, however, he had no way of defending against Chrome as he charged in beneath the crossed weapons. Chrome’s proximity to the boss could only grow from there.
As Chrome tore away at his opponent with a slash of his blade, the boss responded in kind and swung his longsword back towards Chrome. He had forgotten, however, that Chrome was still in possession of his greatshield. The attack made no contact with him. With the ever-looming prospective danger of the pitch-coloured skeleton swinging away at him the minute Syrup’s Mother Nature lost its hold, he could not allow himself the leisure of pulling punches in combat.
The shortsword pierced through the boss monster’s protective garb, and its HP was further drained until only a fifth of it remained.
That was when it happened. That was when a Stygian thorn burst forth, extending from the boss creature. Acting purely on his instinct, Chrome raised his shield to protect himself. A sweep of the longsword followed the thorn, and the shield finally shattered, the noise it made an echo.
“Come on, Izu’s gonna get so mad at me!”
The thorn disappeared after a single hit, and Chrome slashed away in the vain hope of dealing just a little bit of damage.
That was when the effects of Mother Nature chose to subside. Chrome, now left without his greatshield, could now dodge neither sword nor axe as they came from both ways. He could only move as if to intercept the sword, and made to slash away at the boss. Both his shortsword and the boss monster’s longsword connected with their respective targets, both sides reducing the HP-value of the other. The very next moment, something powerful made an impact against his back, blowing away his set of armour as well the contents of his HP bar.
Still, Chrome did not fall.
His Indomitable Guardian had left him with just a single point in HP, and nothing more.
Chrome swiped away with his shortsword, putting as much strength behind the blow as he could muster.
Despite his efforts, the enemy boss had a full tenth of his health left. The sword and axe danced towards Chrome yet again. Even if he were to use his Battle Healing, there was no way his HP would recover in time.
“Light of Spirit!”
That was Chrome’s chosen medal skill. His ace in the hole to end all aces; his absolutely final resort. A holy light shone down upon Chrome. For the next ten seconds, any and all damage would be completely negated.
“What’s wrong? I’m not dying, not yet!”
He cast aside even the barest notion of defence and dived straight in, charging with all his might. The boss stabbed at him just as he did so, but try as it might, it had absolutely no way of whittling down that final, lone point of HP. Chrome’s shortsword slashed away, the angle of its strike slanted, running directly through the boss’s face. Almost immediately, the bluish light that roamed in the boss’s sockets was extinguished.
Both the boss and the black skeleton turned into light, both disappearing into nothing.
“Haah… That was tough… Should’ve known shields are just good for guard duty.”
Chrome let himself fall onto his rear, and in front of him appeared a magic circled and a large coffin. He wasted no time, jumping out of the way and calling for Syrup to come to him.
“If it’s a monster, do me a favour and watch my back… Better take a potion.”
While Chrome occupied himself with healing back his lost health, the door to the coffin slowly opened.
Inside lay a skeleton, its frame enveloped by a set of reddish-black armour. It didn’t appear too keen on rising from its slumber, either.
“Huh? I-Is this a reward?”
Slowly, carefully, daintily, Chrome rested his hand on the set of armour and stowed it away in his inventory space.
“Unique… Series? What’s this…”
– Soul Eater
– VIT + 25
Bloodied White Armour:
– Dead or Alive
– VIT + 25; HP + 100
– Life Eater
– STR + 30
Barrier of the Vengeful Spirit
– VTI + 20; HP + 100
“That’s strong… They’re all perfect, if you wanna ignore the cursed names and how they look like… Also, no shortsword? That really doesn’t look like a sword to me, more like a hatchet.”
Even as he spoke, Chrome was already in the process of donning the entire set of armour. The bloodied jaw of a skeleton covered the lower half of his face. The armour, which had, at some point in time, been entirely white if the description was to be believed. The hatchet, whose size was a mite above average and whose bloodied appearance matched its name quite well. The greatshield, which had been inscribed with the image of a skeleton.
“I’ll just check my skills… and go home, I guess.”
Soul Eater: Ten percent of your HP is recovered for every monster or player you defeat.
Dead or Alive: When your HP reaches zero, you have a 50% chance of making it out alive with 1 HP left.
Life Eater: For every amount of damage dealt, your HP will be recovered by a third of the damage value.
Soul-Sucking: When damage is dealt by means of an attack, 3% of your total health is recovered.
Once he’d taken his time looking over his new skills, Chrome called Syrup back into the ring and stepped into the magic circle, leaving the dungeon behind for good.